Putumayo Presents: Israel


A new generation of Israeli artists explores the exciting and diverse musical traditions of this multicultural Middle Eastern country


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News about Israel in the international media is dominated by the nation’s tension and strife with its Arab neighbors.The Arab-Israeli conflict over land and boundaries, and Israel’s very nature as a Jewish state, have kept many outsiders from having a clear understanding of daily life in this culturally diverse Middle Eastern country.

For example, many people who visit Tel Aviv for the first time are surprised to discover a city where a bustling nightlife, stylish restaurants, fashionable boutiques and trendy beachside bars are far more prevalent than bombings. In Jerusalem, an ancient city whose impressive stone architecture transports the visitor back in time, people of Jewish, Arab and Christian heritage live and work together, coexisting peacefully as they have for centuries in
this city of deep historical importance for all three religions.

Walking down a typical street in most Israeli cities is a treat for the senses: the aroma of exotic foods from all over the globe; the sound of Hebrew, Arabic, Russian,Amharic and many other languages being spoken; the sight of traditional Muslims dressed in burkhas; and Hassidic Jews braving the Mediterranean heat layered in dark suits, all juxtaposed against sophisticated young people clad in chic European fashions.

The Israeli landscape is dotted with beautiful beaches, olive groves, pastoral villages and kibbutzes—idealistic communal
settlements that have played an important role in Israeli social history.

While Palestinian Arabs still make up over twenty percent of the population, modern Israel is largely a land of immigrants. Jewish people from around the world started migrating to the region in the late 1800s, as part of a Zionist movement encouraging Jews in the Diaspora to return to their ancestral homeland. After the state of Israel was founded in 1948, immigration increased, and the
Israel of today has a population with roots in more than 100 countries. Many of the original immigrants were from Eastern European,Yemenite and North African communities,
while recent immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia, Latin America and elsewhere have greatly changed the face of modern Israeli society.

This diversity is reflected in Israel’s music, which is a beguiling fusion of European and Middle Eastern elements sprinkled with exotic flavors from other parts of the Diaspora.Western pop and rock, jazz and folk, Jamaican reggae, Indian music,African grooves, and Latin American rhythms are just some of the inspirations one will find
in contemporary Israeli music. Most of the songs on this compilation were discovered during a recent trip to Israel and reflect the diversity of contemporary Israeli popular music.